White residents of New York City have grabbed far more than their fair share of available COVID-19 vaccines, while Black and Latino residents have used only a fraction of what they should have received, the latest data reveal.
The new figures mirror the situation in communities across the nation where a “racial gap” is depressing equitable distribution of the life-saving vaccines.
“Clearly, we do see a profound disparity that needs to be addressed aggressively and creatively,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on a conference call with reporters Sunday.
Nearly half of city residents who have received at least one vaccine dose are white, even though whites make up only a third of the city’s population, according to the statistics.
Black residents, who comprise a quarter of the city’s population, have received just 11% of the vaccines. Latino residents have received 15% of the vaccines, but make up 29% of New York City residents.
Asians in the city have received 15% of the vaccines, and make up a similar portion of the population.
The figures are preliminary because some 40% of those who have received at least one vaccine dose did not reveal their race or ethnicity. But the figures are similar to findings in other cities and states that reveal people of color are being inoculated at levels far below their share of the population. At the same time, COVID-19 has killed Black and Latino people at disproportionately high rates in New York City — and throughout the U.S.
New York statewide statistics will be released in the coming days and are expected to show similar findings.
To address the disparity, city officials will prioritize vaccine delivery to residents in an expanded number of hard-hit neighborhoods that have high COVID-19 case and death rates, high poverty rates, and a high incidence of other health problems among residents. The city will intensify outreach and education in these areas to address “vaccine hesitancy,” prioritize appointments, add new vaccine sites and improve the scheduling website.
The city has tallied 608,000 cases of COVID-19, with more than 27,000 deaths. The U.S. has racked up more than 26 million cases, with a death toll as of Sunday of more than 441,000.
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